chapter  11
14 Pages

Between Past and Present

Allied Sexual Violence as a ‘Usable Past’ in Contemporary Italy
WithStephanie De Paola

There is evidence of a renewed interest in Italy since the 1990s in the sexual violence committed by Allied soldiers of colour during the occupation of Italy as well as in sexual encounters between Italian women and non-white Allied soldiers—a phenomenon connected to the political crisis of those years as well as to the increase in non-EU immigration to Italy. In those years, scholars and journalists prompted by the collapse of the ‘first republic’ began to call into question the hegemony of the anti-fascist Resistance narrative. One aspect of this trend involved a renewed focus on Allied crimes, which included the sexual violence committed by the French colonial troops as well as the widespread sexual excesses and the general moral degradation that accompanied the occupation. Right wing offer revised versions of the past and criticise the hegemony of the anti-fascist Resistance narrative, which obscured certain aspects of the war such as partisan and Allied crimes. In addition to these popular histories, this chapter studies television documentaries and political discourse has also co-opted this past for various ends, including to stigmatise contemporary male immigrants from Africa and to account for the weak state of Italian national unity in the present.